My name is Catherine Morgan, I'm a writer, nurse, and mother. This is a blog about women's issues, health & wellness, inspirational thoughts, and other stuff too. If you like this blog, you will love BlogHer.com where I am also a contributing editor for Health & Wellness.
Find out all the places I blog at by going to catherine-morgan.com.
A new study finds that women are increasingly stressed over money and the economy. I can’t say this comes as much of a surprise to me. You only have to tune into the national news for a few minutes to understand the gravity of our failing economy.
If you haven’t already lost your job, you are probably worried that you might. If you aren’t already struggling to pay your mortgage, you may worry that at some point you will struggle. If you are married, you may find yourself fighting with your significant other over money much more often than you had in the past. And if you’re single, you may be wishing you weren’t alone in your financial struggles. It seems we are all affected one way or another to this poor economy.
Are you feeling stressed about the economy? If so, you’re not alone.
We have all felt the pinch of this tight economy lately. People are being laid off of jobs, business after business is closing, house values dropping and even the cost of eating healthy has gone sky high.
They say this bad economy has even had a tole on our bodies.
Tammy Garcia at Git’ T Fit has five tips for managing stress…
Stress is the number one contributing factor to physical conditions like obesity, heart disease, chronic fatigue, muscle pain and depression.
So what are you doing to manage your stress?
Most people who follow these strategies find it really helps them decrease their stress levels but some don’t.
For most people implementing these strategies has given them a new lease on life.
According to data from the American Psychological Association’s newly released 2008 Stress in America survey, women are bearing the brunt of the nation’s stress. Compared with men, women repeatedly report being more stressed about money, the economy, job stability, housing costs, and health problems affecting their families. Mature women (+63) reported the most dramatic increases in stress, in some instances up as much as 18% from the prior year.
Women were more likely than men to report physical symptoms associated with their increased stress. Their symptoms include such problems as:
* feeling depressed or sad
* disrupted sleeping and eating habits
In hospital wards and medical clinics across Massachusetts, doctors see growing evidence that the ill economy is making patients sick, spawning headaches and churning stomachs, and even causing bouts of anxiety and depression among people who never before sought psychiatric help.
A recent study shows that calcium may play an even greater role in a woman’s health than we once thought. Apparently, a higher intake of dietary calcium may decrease the risk of a woman developing colorectal cancer. But this isn’t about taking calcium supplements, it’s recommended that we increase our intake of calcium by choosing to eat more calcium rich foods. Yes, it’s another reason to eat healthy. How many more reasons do you need?
High dietary intake of calcium may reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer, especially for women, but has no apparent effect in reducing other malignancies, a U.S. National Cancer Institute study finds.
Why calcium should influence cancer risk differently in women versus men isn’t clear, said Yikyung Park, a staff scientist at NCI who led the study. “One can speculate that hormonal or metabolic factors contribute to this difference,” she said.
Women with higher intake of calcium appear to have a lower risk of cancer overall, and both men and women with high calcium intakes have lower risks of colorectal cancer and other cancers of the digestive system, according to a report in the February 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
So, what does all this mean. The bottom line comes down to this: If you have to grab a quick meal, grab something that includes calcium, such as low-fat dairy products—yogurt, cheese, or cottage cheese—or calcium-fortified beverages, such as orange juice or soy milk. Dark green leafy vegetables—kale, watercress, and bok choy—are also calcium-rich. Eating calcium foods will do your body more good than supplements. However, if you’re falling short on calcium or if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, you should still take calcium supplements, particularly if your health care practitioner told you to take them.
But how do we know if we are getting enough calcium? Do you know if you are getting enough caclium in your diet?
Try this easy to use calcium calculator to find out how much calcium you should be getting, and how much your current diet is providing. I was shocked to find how little calcium I am actually consuming each day, I will certainly need to pay more attention to this in the future.
Once you know how much more calcium you should be getting each day, use this list of calcium rich foods
to find ways to add more to your diet.
During childhood and adolescence, the body uses the mineral calcium to build strong bones — a process that’s all but complete by the end of the teen years. Bone calcium begins to decrease in young adulthood and progressive loss of bone occurs as we age, particularly in women.
It is also important to understand how much calcium kids actually need. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences recommends:
* 500 mg a day for kids who are 1 to 3 years old
* 800 mg a day for kids who are 4 to 8 years old
* 1,300 mg a day for kids who are 9 to 18 years old
My daughter (14 years old) was recently diagnosed with a slight herniated disk in her lower back. It’s most likely the beginning stage of degenerative disc disease (which runs in our family). The doctor wants her to begin doing regular cardio exercise (at least 45 minutes 3 times a week), and also make sure she is getting enough calcium in her diet. Hopefully making these changes will decrease her pain and reduce her risk of future problems.
Young bodies need adequate calcium to build strong bones, especially during growth spurts. In fact, 90 percent of a person’s peak bone mass for adulthood is established by the late teen years: The strength and health of an adult’s bones largely depends on calcium intake during formative years. Some experts call osteoporosis a juvenile disease because poor bone mass in adulthood often begins in adolescence.
Other factors also help build bones, such as engaging in weight-bearing physical activity, for example:
But calcium intake remains critical. An added bonus to consuming calcium: Some studies link diets rich in dairy products with more lean body mass and better weight management.
This was a challenging subject to blog about – especially since one of my kiddos is the pickiest eater ever. Here are my 5 tips for making sure my kids get the vitamins and minerals they need for strong bones.
When I was kid there was nothing better than coming home from school, opening the refrigerator, and seeing those old-fashioned ice cream dessert glasses filled with Mom’s chocolate pudding, bananas, and Graham Crackers. Cool, creamy, and soothing, just what any kid could use after a long day at school. Plus it’s low in fat and high in bone-building calcium, vitamin D and protein.
Is stress wearing you down? Are you worried about the bad economy? Your job? The mortgage? Your health? Your family? If so, you are not alone.
Life is always changing, and that can feel very stressful. But often, seemingly bad things will happen in our lives, that will actually turn out to be the catalysts to something positive. It’s very true that when one door closes another will open. Although it never feels so great when that one door closes. Recently I’ve had several doors close on me. But as hard as it’s been, I can already see that these things needed to happen to bring me closer to where I am meant to be.
There are three things we can do to help relieve the stress in our lives…
Number one is acceptance. We need to accept that life does not always go the way we perceive to be best.
One tool to help keep life in perspective is a gratitude journal where you write down a few things each day that you are thankful for. They can be big things, like I’m thankful that I have a warm, dry place to live in the midst of this crazy California rainstorm, or small things, like I had a really yummy hot chocolate the other day.
Number three is your inner game and positive affirmations.
What is your inner voice saying to you? Have you developed the habit of saying negative things to yourself? If so, this is a habit that needs to be broken.
Whether we speak out loud or we are in silence, our brain is in continuous chatter. We have thoughts about things to do, feelings, expectations, ideas, reminders, theories and conversations.
. . .
Much of our mind chatter is thoughts we have been given by others, thoughts based on past experiences we have had (as kids), things we have seen in the media and interpretations of what has happened around us. The real challenge is to switch from negative thoughts to positive ones.
Taking a wealth/prosperity affirmation as our example, it’s unlikely that a wealthy person would tell someone “I’m a very wealthy person” or “I’m a multi-millionaire,” but they might tell someone “I’m never in need of money” or “My finances are better than they’ve ever been before.” Think of a way in which you’d tell your friends and family about your wealth, and use that as your money mantra. If you use a lot of slang or colloquial phrases, fashion your affirmation that way. A person who refers to money as “dough,” for instance, would probably be better off writing her mantra as “I’m rollin’ in dough!” than as “I have a lot of money!” Keep your own speech pattern in mind when you write out your affirmations, and they’ll be much more powerful for you.
It’s not something we, as parents, like to hear and yet it’s precisely what we need to realize: if our children are fat, the chances are we bear a big load of the blame. Kids aren’t the ones pulling the minivan into the drive-through lane at McDonald’s for dinner between dance lessons and karate practice. Again. They aren’t the ones zipping past the produce aisle and dried beans in favor of high-fat, calorie-dense convenience meals that promise to be ready after five minutes or less in the microwave. They don’t keep files crammed with the take-out menus for nearby restaurants, nor program the phone number of the pizza joint on their cell phones. Parents do.
If a child is obese at the age of two, there’s no one to blame but the parents.
Traditionally toddlers have the healthiest lifestyles – they naturally run around all the time, burning up calories.
So it’s difficult to imagine what these children’s parents have been doing to let them get so fat. If you’re busy and stressed and feel guilty about not spending enough quality time with your child, you’re probably looking for quick and easy ways to make it up to them.
Is fast-food to blame? Or is it the parent who provides the fast-food to blame?
School systems have instituted nutrition and exercise programs with some success. For example, a research group, The Healthier Options for Public Schools, followed 3700 students in a Florida county over 2 years. School districts instituted an intervention program in 4 schools and the results were measured against two schools that did not have a program. The intervention program included dietary changes, increased exercise and nutrition awareness. There were dramatic changes in the kids who had intervention, however, when those students returned from summer vacation, most had reverted back to their old habits.
Healthy Choices: Stock the fridge with a lot of healthy food and snacks, such as whole-grain choices, fresh produce and milk. Get rid of the junk food and soda.
Behavioral changes help: Serving water or milk at dinner instead of soda, sitting at a table instead of around the T.V., eating dinner at a regular time—these changes are small but can break old habits and make a real difference. Make small decisions to increase the activity in your day.
Beware of the TV: studies have shown that TV time directly correlates with snacking. Instead, encourage your child to be active, or work on a project that engages his or her hands so they are less likely to snack.
Slow down the consumption: Encourage your child to eat slowly and engage them in discussion during mealtime. Serve them smaller portions, and if they are old enough, don’t cut their food for them.
Food as nutrition, not reward: Don’t make food a source of reward or punishment. Allow your child to stop eating when they are no longer hungry and never force them to finish their plate.
Engage them in physical activity outside of the home: Enroll your child in a physical activity they might enjoy, such as gymnastics, dance or martial arts. Encourage him to join a school team or play basketball with his friends.
Be a good role model: Create a healthy lifestyle, not just a goal for your child’s weight. There are old habits to break and good habits to establish- acting as a role model for your child is the most effective way to help him or her make changes that last.
Often, I say to my adult children “I wish I knew then what I know now”. Our lives would be very different. I would advise that parents involve their children in the healthy choices. A meal always tastes better when the child is involved in the preparation. Make sure the fruit bowl is always full. Take control as a parent over the media hype. Do not give in. I would also advice parents to start with the elimination of “hydrogenated oils” and “high fructose corn syrup” from any products they purchase. Make sure your child starts their day with a nutritious breakfast that would exclude modern breakfast cereals. We drink green smoothies daily and every child loves a smoothie. Cabbage and spinach are the easiest veggies to mask and this can sustain a child with clearer thinking and brain function. In sharing with your child the importance of healthy choices and the affect on their bodies, we can reverse this preventive epidemic we call obesity.
Become A Recovering Couch Potato With Just 7 Minutes Of Exercise A Week
Even A Small Amount Of Exercise Is Better Than Being A Couch Potato
A new study finds that as little as seven minutes of exercise a week is beneficial to your health. This is my kind of news. I’ve always thought that you either had to be totally committed to fitness or be a couch potato. But it turns out that good health can boil down to making healthy food choices and committing to just one minute a day of rigorous exercise. Even if you spend all day online, making time to exercise for one minute is more than possible. So you can be fit even without jeopardizing your couch potato or internet potato status.
Scientists at Heriot-Watt University have found that short, intensive periods of exercise – involving as little as seven minutes per week – can significantly reduce the chances of contracting diabetes.
Professor James Timmons, who led the study, said, “It is clear that cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes are major health issues for western society. The risk of developing these diseases is substantially reduced through regular physical activity. But many people simply don’t have the time or inclination to follow government guidelines. What we have found is that doing a few intense muscle exercises, each lasting only about 30 seconds, dramatically improves your metabolism in just two weeks. The improvements in metabolism we measured are known to be critical for reducing your chance of getting diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the future.”
Here is some of what other women bloggers are saying about making time for fitness.
If you say you can’t find time to exercise, you aren’t alone. Even Olympic athletes struggle with finding enough time to train for sports, often waking up early for pre-dawn training sessions. Balancing workouts with work, family and social commitments can be challenging and can result inconsistent or skipped workouts.
The non-movie reality, though, is that we are still a nation fighting an obesity epidemic, and that’s due not just to our poor eating habits. As a society, we are too sedentary. And that’s true of our children, too. “Go play!” often means get out the video games or watch TV, now, rather than running and jumping and other physical activities.
All around you, people are waking up to the fact that some type of daily exercise is important. Still, you can’t seem to get up the motivation to settle into an exercise routine. Before you reach for that box of doughnuts and turn on the television, here are five tips that may help to motivate you to get up and get moving today.
Tip # 1 – You’ll Live Longer People who get at least some exercise often live more years than persons who are essentially sedentary.
It is time for another installment of “One Fit Mommy”! As I surf around the blogosphere, I come across fit moms (and dads too!) who inspire me to fitness. From there, I hunt them down and force them to tell me their secrets, which I then share with you! There are no excuses with these parents, just support on how we can ALL find time for fitness!
This week’s mommy is Alison, who blogs over here. She is a busy single mom who makes fitness a priority. If you live with a significant other and claim that you have “no time to exercise”, then I encourage you to think again. Single parents have very little, if any, time to themselves and if they can find the time to exercise, then we can certainly find time as well.
Do you find it hard to make time for fitness? Could you spare seven minutes a week if it meant better health and a longer life? Let me know in comments.
Just in time for National Heart Health month, a new study has been released about women and their risk for heart disease. Are you at risk?
Do you know what your resting heart rate is? I know mine and it’s high, it has always been high. It doesn’t matter what my blood pressure is, my heart rate is high. When my blood pressure is high, my heart rate is high. And when my blood pressure is low, my heart rate is still high. I even take a medication to lower my heart rate, and my resting heart rate is still never lower than 90 (it’s usually over 100). So you can imagine how I felt after reading about a study linking women with high resting heart rates to an increased risk for heart attack.
A woman’s resting pulse rate is a good predictor of her heart attack risk regardless of other risk factors, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, researchers say.
A team of scientists analyzed records of 129,135 postmenopausal women who had no history of heart problems. Their pulse rates were measured at the start of the study. The researchers found that during almost eight years of follow-up, women with the highest heart rates — at or above 76 beats per minute — were much more likely to suffer a heart attack than the women with the lowest resting pulse rates, 62 beats per minute or less.
Even more scary…
The relationship between resting heart rate and coronary risk was stronger in women less than 65 years old than in women over 65.
I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I’m eating right and losing weight…But there’s still a good chance a heart attack is in my future. That really sucks. I guess the only good thing about knowing you are at a greater risk for a heart attack, is that you can choose to be aware and more attentive to possible signs and symptoms.
Chest pain – may include back pain and/or deep aching and throbbing in one or both arms
Breathlessness and/or inability to catch your breath when waking up
Dizziness — unexplained lightheadedness and possible blackouts
Anxiety — unusual nervousness, feelings of impending doom
Edema — fluid retention and swelling in the ankles or lower legs
Fluttering, rapid heartbeats or palpitations
Nausea or gas
Feeling of heaviness, such as pressure-like pain between the breasts that may radiate to the left arm or shoulder
Research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicated that women often experience different physical symptoms of heart attack than men. These symptoms can be felt as long as a month or more before the actual cardiac event. In a study of 515 women, 95 percent said they knew something was different a month or more before experiencing a heart attack. The most common symptoms were fatigue (70.6 percent), sleep disturbance (47.8 percent) and shortness of breath (42.1 percent). Fewer than 30 percent of women reported experiencing chest pain or discomfort prior to their heart attack, and even though 43 percent reported having no chest pain during the attack, most doctors continue to consider chest pain the most important symptom in both women and men. Women in the study also reported experiencing indigestion and anxiety prior to having a heart attack. During the actual heart attack, the most common symptoms reported by women were shortness of breath and weakness.
As someone who has been very personally affected by heart disease, I do my best to live a heart healthy lifestyle and be an advocate for the American Heart Association and its programs. Are you familiar with the Go Red for Women campaign? It’s a great program designed to help inform and empower women to live heart healthy lifestyles, know their risk factors, and understand the symptoms of a heart attack.
Here are some simple steps to love your heart, courtesy of the AHA:
You should know that…Women are at a very high risk for heart disease and heart attacks. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women over 65. American women are 4 to 6 times more likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer. Women are also less likely to survive a heart attack than a man.
The biggest factors that contribute to heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history and age. Take some time to look at your lifestyle, family history and your general health. Even though you can’t do much about your family history or your age, you can make lifestyle changes to avoid many of the other risk factors. Here is a list of what doctors recommend:
Don’t smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease in women. More than half of the heart attacks in women under 50 are related to smoking. If you stop smoking, you can lower your risk of heart attack by one third within 2 years. Women who smoke and use birth control pills increase their risk even more.
Control your blood pressure. Treating high blood pressure can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Losing weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are all ways to help control high blood pressure. Reducing how much salt you consume can also help. If these steps don’t lower your blood pressure, your doctor may recommend medicine for you to take.
Control your cholesterol level. If you don’t know your level, ask your doctor to check it. Diet is a key part of lowering high cholesterol levels. However, some people may need to take medicine in addition to diet and exercise.
Exercise regularly. Remember, your heart is a muscle. It needs regular exercise to stay in shape. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging or biking, gives your heart the best workout. You can also use fitness equipment like exercise bicycles, treadmills and ski machines when exercising indoors. Finding an exercise partner may make it easier and safer for you to exercise often. You should exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Eat a low-fat diet. Keep fat calories to 30% or less of the total calories you eat during a day and avoid saturated fat (the fat in meats and coconut oil). Information is available to help you make healthy choices. For example, food labels list nutrition information, including fat calories, many cookbooks have heart-healthy recipes, and some restaurants serve low-fat dishes.
Be aware of chest pain. Be sure to contact your doctor immediately if you suffer from pain in your chest, shoulder, neck or jaw. Also notify your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or nausea that comes on quickly. If you are having a heat attack, the faster you can get to the hospital, the less damage will happen to your heart. Every second counts.
Do You Hate or Love Your Body? Is It Possible To Love Yourself Healthy?
A long time ago I read a book called Love Yourself Thin. The idea of the book was that if you love and appreciate your body, choosing to feed it healthy foods would come naturally. It also emphasized the importance of loving our bodies just the way they are…even suggesting you stand naked in front of a mirror and replace negative self talk with positive self talk. Even though I never tried that, it did make me notice how many times in one day I was passing my reflection and telling myself I was fat or ugly (more than I could count).
So the idea of loving ourselves healthy isn’t a new concept. But it is something that most of us are neglecting to practice.
When we choose to eat healthy out of love for our bodies, we are able to let go of the negative aspects of weight and appearances. We no longer have to hate our bodies into going on starvation diets. Instead, we can love our bodies into making healthy food choices.
The first step in loving yourself healthy is to STOP JUDGING YOURSELF and your appearance. If you can’t say something nice about yourself…Don’t say anything at all. This is a great opportunity to recognize your negative self talk and begin to practice positive affirmations. Check out this website where you can randomly pick a wisdom card by Louise Hay.
The next step is to start treating your body like you love it (even if you don’t). Try making food choices that reflect your desire to fuel your body with nourishing and healthy foods.
One way to learn to love yourself is to act as if you already do (i.e., “Fake it till you make it”). An important way to love yourself is to nourish and care for your body: eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.
Make stir-fry using a little chicken, some veggies, some seasoning all in one pan; and you have a healthy meal.
Carry nuts, fruit, string cheese (part skim mozzarella), low-fat yogurt, or hard-boiled eggs with you for healthy snacks.
If other people in the house eat junk food, put it all in one cabinet and start eating less of it.
Make a healthy grocery list and don’t buy the junk (chips, etc.).
Avoid foods with the word “hydrogenated” on the label, or look for foods that say “no trans fats”.
Avoid deep fat fried foods like french fries.
Eat throughout the day. If you don’t eat much all day you are more likely to binge at night.
Eat something with a lot of fiber, like a salad, before your meal; it will make you feel less hungry.
If you find you frequently eat for emotional comfort, think of other things you could substitute, like a warm bath, or your favorite music.
You can be a good example for your children and teach them to eat healthy foods along with you. This may change their lives for the better now, and help them be more likely to eat healthfully as adults.
If we really and truly care for ourselves, we would take good care of these bodies that are taking us through life.This minor revelation helped me change my negative thoughts about myself as I was writing. I realized that I usually do love myself enough to eat healthy foods which contribute to my being exceptionally healthy most of the time.
How many companies rely on us feeling crappy about our bodies to sell more product? If we all loved our bodies the way they are, douche companies wouldn’t be the only ones going out of business–the diet, health & beauty, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic surgery industries would suffer as well!
Think of the money we could save if we loved ourselves and accepted our bodies in their natural state.